Palladian Estate Winery

2005 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon •Meadowood Lane Vineyard

California: Napa Valley: St. Helena

Offer Expired:Feb 23, 2011 at 11:59 pm
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What We Say


Today’s selection from Palladian Estate Winery is a shining example of fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon from the Napa Valley. If you are a fan of complex and elegant Cabernet, we recommend this superb wine very highly.


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Mission Codename: Palladio’s Gift

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Send Agent Red to St. Helena, at the northern end of the Napa Valley, to secure an elegant and delicious Cabernet Sauvignon for our demanding Operatives.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Palladian Estate Winery

Wine Subject: 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley

Winemaker: David Mahafey

Backgrounder: Today’s estate-grown wine comes to us from winemaker David Mahafey and proprietors David and Sandy Jones. This potent pairing previous brought us a stunningly excellent Pinot Noir from their other winery project, Olivia Brion. When Agent Red learned of their Palladian Winery project, he rushed to procure their thoughtfully crafted and recently released 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon, and wine that was barrel and bottle aged to perfection, prior to its release.

Situated in the heart of Premium Cabernet Country, the estate vineyard for today’s wine neighbors the Meadowood Resort and surrounding vineyards. The vineyard sits just off the Silverado, in St. Helena, where it enjoys the company of some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignon producers in the world.

Saint Helena is one of the more recent distinct AVAs or districts in Napa Valley, having been formally designated in 1995. Just north of the famous Rutherford AVA, St. Helena is distinct from its neighbors in climate, aspect and soil. Being between the mountainous districts (Spring Mountain and Howell Mountain) to the north and the valley floor to the south (Rutherford) this region is uniquely ‘up-valley’. This AVA covers about 9000 acres with the well known Charles Krug being among the first to grow grapes here dating back to the 1870s.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Deep dark garnet with a deep and slightly inky core, this wine’s deep color extends right out to the edges of the glass, where a soft rim of ruby encircles the glass. When swirled fast, chubby legs gather high on the glass – and then then race down to the surface of the wine.

Smell – Medium in intensity and very well developed, this wine shows a complex bouquet that leads with red cherry, cassis and blackberry. These are layered atop cigarbox, soft wild fennel, toasted vanilla oak and a hint of tobacco leaf. As the wine opens up, additional aromas of wild mushroom and soft earth emerge.

Feel – Very smooth and soft across the entry. Then, the feminine feel of fine grained tannins and a touch of acidity enhance the plus feel and encourage flavors to evolve on the palate. After swallowing, a minerality that introduces a soft dryness emerges, spreading to the corners of the palate.

Taste – Classic, integrated Napa Cabernet flavors leading off with black fruit of black cherry and black plum, wild fennel, soft exotic spice and a hint of black pepper. After the wine opens up, mineral notes, bright cherry and white pepper emerge.

Finish – Clean and very long, with lingering black plum, black cherry, spice, mild sweet cigar box and earthy notes that are all supported by the fine tannins.

Conclusion – The *2005 Palladian Cabernet Sauvignon – Napa Valley * is an exceptional example of a fully developed wine. Winemaker David Mahafey impressed upon me the fact that this wine was carefully aged, first for up to two years in oak, and then for two years in bottle – before it was deemed ready for release. Rich and plush on the palate, complex and very well-integrated, this wine delivers balanced flavors will delight your senses. Drinking like a true Bordeaux, this elegant wine shows wonderful grace and finesse. Drinking perfectly now, this wine will only continue to improve with age, so buy enough bottles to enjoy some now – and savor the rest over the next several years.

Mission Report:


SUBJECT: David Mahaffey

WINE EDUCATION: Taught wine production and wine study classes at Napa Valley College for ten years — I have a Masters degree in Education from Harvard

OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE WINE BIZ: Inventor and co-developer of an Ozone Sanitation system used by more than 800 wineries. Applied for and got Wild Horse Valley approved as AVA in 1987

WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Transparency in the winemaking so that the vineyard specific qualities always shine through.

FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: First Vintage 1980, first commercial wine release 1985


AGENT RED: Greetings, David. We are thrilled to be showing your luscious 2005 Caberent Sauvignon today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.

DAVID MAHAFFEY: I’m always happy to pontificate about wine in general – and my wine in particular.

RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine making?

DAVID: Yes, harvest 1979, rain threatening, last day of picking at Green & Red vineyard, the last box of grapes were dumped into the stemmer, the heavens opened and Biblical rain started… Followed by one of the great feasts of my life.

RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?

DAVID: I’m lucky enough to have been able to drink some really great Burgundy. The one that comes to mind is, ‘95 Musigny from Comte de Vogue – extraordinary fragrance and femininity. I’m sure I’d recognize if I ever got to taste it again. (now, however, a second mortgage would be necessary to do that)

RED: Who do you make wine for?

DAVID: If I can make myself happy, everybody else is going to be thrilled. Most of the time winemaking is a skilled craft, like being a chef, however, once in a while, an intuitive leap from my standard protocol really works and it feels like art has happened. That makes me happy.

RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.

DAVID: The grapes are organically farmed, gardened really, all hand work, from a true Estate vineyard. I hold the wine for two years in barrel and age for at least two more years in bottle before release. The 2005 vintage is our current release, we want to see the wine aged during its young life in perfect conditions! The wine has had the time to develop, silky, silky tannins and exotic bouquet notes, like ancient perfumed love letters lost in the back of a cedar armoire! (I’m allowed to wax poetic). Classic structural proportions, and under 14 % alcohol – this wine will continue to please for a long time! A few percent of Cab Franc adds the floral violets notes. The ’05 Palladian was just picked #2 in the top 100 Wines of the Year by an important Southern California Wine shop. This lovely vintage will soon be history.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

DAVID: I love this wine with rich winter comfort food, like Chanterelle risotto. This wine really clears the palate, and makes each bite of food taste focused and clear. Wine should be at the service of enhancing, and refining the meal. Young, over extracted, 15.2 % alcohol Cabernet, (D-cup style) might be OK on the back porch with a cigar, but NOT at the table with a savory meal!

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Palladian Estate vineyard, in St. Helena, so special?

DAVID: The Palladian Estate is in the heart of the Napa Valley, in some of the best cabernet soil in St. Helena, (across the road from Harlan’s Napa Reserve). Arguably, one of the best locations on earth for ripening the noble Cabernet Sauvignon grape. We have chosen the name Palladian for our wine because Palladio’s structural designs were all about proportion and balance – a perfect metaphor for what is important in wine, proportion and balance. The Palladian temple pictured on the label, is near the barrel cave and serves as a quiet reminder of what has been considered beautiful for five hundred years. I really hope our care of the soil means someone can grow cabernet here seven generations from now.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

DAVID: Let’s see.. a wine thief, a Reidel glass, a hammock, and the big screen TV in the cave.. not really the last two items, but the first two I’m using to frequently taste every barrel of the ’09 and 2010 vintages to watch the mid palate expand and the flavors evolve. BTW, please get it touch when you come to Napa and come do some barrel tasting with me. I love to pontificate about wine!

RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?

DAVID: With reverence…BULLSHIT! Wine is to make the pasta more interesting on Wednesday night! Serious answer — with curiosity, intent, and memory sensors set to 11.

RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

DAVID: Please call and come taste my wines from the barrel and talk to me about wine.

RED: I have the feeling you’ll be seeing our Operatives, soon…. Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The approximate location of the Palladian Estate Winery vineyard can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

Awards & Accolades:

About This Wine:

Polished and refined. Tightly wound at first, gains depth and richness as it opens. Bright nose of cherry and black currents encircled by a hint of cigar-box cedar. Some delicate floral notes of violets from the cabernet franc influence. The palate is all cassis and kirsch with a little cocoa powder. The tannins are silky. Finishes long and clean – classical, balanced structure.

Production: Six years of organic farming methods are really paying off in the fruit quality. We are carrying the banner toward wines with moderate alcohol with great balance and structure. The Palladian vineyard is across the road from the Napa Reserve vineyard and next to Meadowood Country Club. 475 cases produced, estate bottled.

Winemaking: After careful hand sorting, and four to five days aqueous soak in one-ton bins, the whole berries are fermented cool (72 – 75°F) to preserve the fruit flavors. The cap is punched down every six hours to extract the desirable fine skin tannins and evaporate alcohol. Finished alcohol 13.9%. Pressing is very gentle, “one light, slow, squeeze”. The wine is barreled down into French oak from several premium coopers for twenty-two to twenty-four months in our aging cave. Typically the wine is released after two years of additional bottle aging.

About The Winery:

In the mountains just east of the town of Napa is the coolest growing area of the Napa region, Wild Horse Valley. Here, nestled just below the ridgeline at 1200 feet elevation, is Heron Lake Vineyard and Winery, and the home of Olivia Brion wines.

History: Heron Lake Vineyard is in the south end of Wild Horse Valley, 1,200 feet higher than the Napa Valley floor and five miles east of Napa town. Wild horses frolicked in the cool climate of Wild Horse Valley in the 19th century, but since then the area has been the home of a gentler breed: grape growers. Grapes were first grown there by Joseph Volpe and Constantino Malandrino, who planted in the 1880’s.

Today, the 3,300-acre valley has just 70 acres of vines in three vineyard operations. Wild Horse Valley is a distinct viticultural appellation: while Napa Valley has hot summer afternoons, Wild Horse’s proximity to the San Pablo and Suisun bays exposes it to cool westerly winds. That weather, along with the rocky volcanic soil, results in small yields and fruit of great color, intensity and minerality.

About The Winemaker:

From the Winemaker, By David Mahaffey – I have been making wines in the Napa Valley for 30 years, and have been the winemaker for Heron Lake since its first vintage. My primary goals are to create wines that are balanced, elegant and age beautifully. I think of myself as a craftsman with occasional lucky intuitional leaps into something like art.

Besides being a craftsman in wine, I’m an accomplished woodworker–canoes, guitars, turned bowls and a houseful of furniture. I taught winemaking for a decade at Napa Valley College, regularly lecture about the world of wine, and consult on a variety of wine making projects. I’m the co-inventor and developer of an “ozone for sanitation” system that’s now used by over 700 wineries to save water and avoid harsh chemicals.

Technical Analysis:

Varietals: Cabernet Sauvignon

Alcohol: 13.5%

Appellation: Napa Valley

Vineyard: Meadowood Lane Vineyard

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